By Jeff Wagner

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A monumental decision for women’s rights, nearly 50 years ago, is back at the forefront.

Wednesday, the United States Supreme Court will hear arguments regarding a Mississippi law that would ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The outcome could affect the groundbreaking Roe vs. Wade case.

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WCCO spoke with David Schultz, constitutional law professor at Hamline University, about the possible magnitude of this hearing.

“It’s an incredibly big issue in terms of being heard,” Schultz said. “What’s gonna happen in the oral arguments is the court is gonna ask not only is that Mississippi law constitutional, but it may use that as an opportunity to revisit Roe vs. Wade.”

In 1973, the landmark decision in the Roe vs. Wade case made it so states could not restrict abortions before fetal viability, which is defined as when a fetus could survive outside of the womb.

Jill Hasday, a law professor with the University of Minnesota Law School, says the current age of fetal viability is about 23 weeks.

“So Mississippi, in other words, is banning pre-viability abortions,” Hasday said.

Ruling in favor of the Mississippi law opens the door for Roe vs. Wade to be overturned, especially given the Supreme Court’s make up.

“There appears to be between five to six justices on the Supreme Court who in a variety of opinions or statements have expressed disagreement with Roe vs. Wade,” Schultz said.

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(credit: CBS)

Judges Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett were two conservatives appointed to the high court during President Donald Trump’s term. Their decision could have a large impact countrywide.

“A variety of states, about a dozen states, have what are called trigger laws. These laws provide that if the Supreme Court was ever to overturn Roe and [1992’s Planned Parenthood vs. Casey decision], they are immediately banning abortion in the state,” Hasday said.

She estimates up to 25 states would further restrict abortions if the ruling was overturned. They’re highlighted on the website Center for Reproductive Rights.

What happens to Minnesota’s abortions laws if Roe vs. Wade were to be overturned?

“At this point, nothing would happen to Minnesota’s abortion laws,” Schultz said.

That’s because of a Minnesota Supreme Court ruling on abortion rights in the 1990s which supersedes any SCOTUS decision. However, state lawmakers have drafted bills that further restrict abortion in Minnesota, but they’ve usually been voted down well before getting to the governor’s desk.

“If there are no constitutional restraints on a state’s ability to regulate abortion, the legislature would have full reign,” Hasday said. “They could do whatever they wanted.”

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A ruling on the Mississippi law won’t happen anytime soon. It could take several months and very likely will occur next June. Regardless of the decision, Schultz anticipates abortion rights will be amplified in the upcoming election cycle due to the SCOTUS simply hearing arguments on the Mississippi law.

Jeff Wagner